What I’m Still Reading: Church Marketing 101

As I’ve said before it can take me awhile to make it through a book. Here’s a thought that stood out to me. Reising was talking about branding. In branding he talked about knowing your target audience. Then designing to appeal to that target audience instead of my own desires and likes.

It struck me with the analogy of using food I like as fish bait. I don’t know how effective that would be. Granted I have more in common with a person who doesn’t go to church than I do with any fish. So the analogy breaks down pretty quick. But it got me thinking that I need to filter my designs through the eyes of someone in my community who doesn’t go to church. Does it appeal to their perceived needs? Is it appealing to them? Is it clear to understand what to act upon?

I also realized I need to work on identifying and putting word pictures to the different audiences/ target groups the various ministries of our church reaches. Reising talks about knowing the target audience of your church. I think that gets tougher the larger your church gets. Most larger churches offer more ministries to reach more groups of people. We run over 4,000 on a weekend and have at least 12 services (3 children, 3 youth, 3 adults, 2 spanish, 1 young adult) to reach various target groups and different times. Not to mention the dozens of LIFE groups that range in size from a dozen to around 100.


July 9, 2007. Books.


  1. Alexis replied:

    For me, churches that think in marketing terms (as well as megachurches) are exactly what I avoid. In the kingdom of God, I’m special. On earth, I’m just a demographic. Why on earth (pun intended) would I want to attend a church that treats me like a demographic?

    When churches stop trying to outsell each other (in terms of books, tapes, CDs) and stop trying to outgrow each other, when they start caring more about the environment (instead of acquiring material possesions to show how “blessed” they are) and social justice (and just giving blonde baby dolls to hungry African kids) then I’ll consider returning to the church.

    I think that’s what Jesus would do.

    • David Henderson replied:

      Jesus never left the church.

  2. mediaocrity replied:

    I agree that there are a lot of churches out there that miss the point of their existence. And I’m sorry to hear that you have had some bad experiences with “church”.

    I work for a large church and this blog is just an outlet for me to process my thoughts. So let me put this in some context.

    I believe the church has the privilege to promote the best message/ product in the world, a personal life changing relationship with Jesus Christ. I want to leverage every tool and resource that I have to make this known in my community.

    When I’ve refereed to this book in an earlier post, I mentioned that the book is more about managing the perception people have about my church. And to make sure that it is the right perception. I’m not talking about promoting something that is not true. But letting people know what the church has to offer to them and what makes there church unique.

    In no way can one church reach an entire community. I think churches should be more unified and there is no reason to compete with other churches. My church will gladly point you in the direction of other churches that might be a better fit for you. As our culture fragments more and more into sub cultures I can see churches focusing more and more on reaching specific cultures through church plants or sub ministries.

    Let me give an example: let’s say you are a young professional in your early thirties, you rent an apartment, have some solid friendships but are not married or have any kids. You haven’t grown up in church and you embrace technology as an essential part of your life. The needs of this person and a couple who has been married for 30 years, are empty nesters and have gone to church as long as they can remember. The couple enjoys those old gospel quartets and only uses a computer one of their kids set up in their home so they can e-mail pictures of the grandkids to them.

    These people are going to be drawn to different churches. Just as they are drawn to different music, movies, TV, books, magazines, clothes etc… If my church has a ministry that can benefit either of these people I want to relate it to them in the most culturally relevant way possible.

    Sorry if this has been rambling. I’ve been home with my 2 year old daughter and 5 month old son. My thoughts can get a little jumbled.

  3. Angie Gant replied:


    I’m from one of those micro churches,(275 attendance, non-denominational) compared to your mega church, and am numero-uno in advertising/marketing. I’m it, and I’m a volunteer with no marketing experience/education. So, I’m looking for new fresh ideas to bring in to our worn out congregation. We have multi facets, seniors, kids, teens, young families and single adults. In addition, we are in the last stages of looking for a new pastor (should have one in the next few months, Lord willing). I’m trying to think of new ideas, and am working on a little, TINY, campaign. This is it: putting 4 22 x 28 posters up in our mall; plus a very visible 4 x 8 ft. sign above the telephone booths there. Any suggestions for my little budget and campaign??

  4. Dave replied:

    The average church in america is under 100 people I think so you guys are almost triple that! And I got saved in a small church. They had 50 people on Easter as a record!

    I’m no expert on marketing or church marketing. But a book I’m really enjoying right now is “Branding Faith” by Phil Cooke. I’m only half way through but it’s got me thinking about some ideas.

    As for marketing it’s been proven that most people come to church through a personal invitation. The marketing we’ve done at times has been billboards, direct mail, radio spots, invite cards for members to give to friends, slides before a movie starts in a theater and door hangers have all been just to raise awareness in our community that we’re here. That way when someone invites them it rings a bell, they’ve heard of us before.

    So what ever you can do to raise awareness in your community I think would be the best marketing. One thing we do is we’ve established some relationships with local papers and news stations so when we know of something positive happening we send them press releases. Some examples of what we’ve let them know: we had some families that adopted children from oversees, our youth helped at a homeless shelter and thrift store, a doctor in our church organized a health clinic for the inner city. The news stations and papers are free resources and they are often looking for positive news and “fillers” for them to put in.

    And putting up advertising is good as well. It’s reinforcing the message. Just make sure the advertising accurately represents you. If you’re church is clean cut you don’t want a grungy style poster or vice versa. But you want it to be a quality piece. The medium is as important as the message when it comes to advertising.

    Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions!

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